“THE GOOD DAUGHTER,”
BY ALEXANDRA BURT
PUBLICATION: BERKLEY; FEBRUARY 7, 2017
Synopsis: What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?
Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.
In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…
Feeling down about your dysfunctional family? No need, just read “The Good Daughter,” by Alexandra Burt, and all of your worries will float away! Seriously, this was an absolutely amazing page-turner that you will not soon forget!
Dahlia was raised in the backseat of her mother’s car, traveling from place to place as her mother worked jobs under the table and Dahlia couldn’t go to school because her mom had lost the necessary paperwork. Dahlia, who was initially called “Pet,” was loved by her mother, but never had any normalcy in her childhood. Once she becomes an adult she leaves her mother in Aurora, TX for fifteen years, but eventually returns. Dahlia, like her mother, must work under the table jobs where identification and social security numbers aren’t necessary, but she never knows why they don’t have the needed “paperwork.” After returning to Aurora and out jogging one day, Dahlia makes a terrifying discovery in the woods, prompting the police to visit her mother’s home. Dahlia’s mom, Memphis, suddenly seems distracted and disconnected, leading Dahlia down a strange and shocking path of discovery about her mother’s past.
Both Dahlia and Memphis are wonderfully complex characters. The alternating points of view allow the reader to feel as if they are slowly getting to know who each character really is. The same goes for the character of Quinn, who enters the novel as a child but as the novel unfolds, we learn so much more about Quinn and the irreparable damage that can occur after sexual assault. Other characters such as Nolan and Bobby y were not as developed and after reading I wished that I had learned more about them.
There is a lot going on in this novel and honestly, there were times I felt like the pace was slowing and I found myself skimming, but do not do this! Those areas I did try to skim ended up being re-read because every word of this novel is important to the overall storyline and conclusion. This is one of those novels that is challenging to review without including spoilers but believe me that is full of numerous surprises, twists, and turns. Dahlia is trying to deal with her past, as well as, being drawn into the incident in the woods and absorbing her mother’s changes. Bobby is struggling with finishing a case his father had begun years earlier. Then there’s Memphis, recounting the stories of Quinn, Nolan, Tain, and Aella.
At some point, I was able to put together “who’s who” in this story, but it is still full of shocking events and brutal realities. *Warning that there are possible trigger issues involving stillbirths, murder, and sexual assault, but overall this is a beautifully written novel, despite its overall negative events and themes. I have not read Alexandra Burt’s first novel, however, I feel sure that I will now seek it out and also read any of her future publications. “The Good Daughter” is an absolutely fascinating journey through a mother and daughter’s past and present. Burt’s writing is impeccable and allows the reader to feel as if they are there with Dahlia, making all of the discoveries and coming to terms with the emotions along with her. This novel serves as a reminder of things not always appearing as they are, as well as, the torturous burden that secrets put upon people’s lives. “The Good Daughter” was an outstanding novel and one I will be mulling over in my mind for a while.
*Thanks to First to Read for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Learn more about Alexandra Burt by visiting her web page.